Inside Lines: Amir the amateur's fond and final farewell
Just to show there are no hard feelings, Amir Khan will be a ringside guest during next Friday's senior ABA Championship finals at London's ExcCel Centre.
Just to show there are no hard feelings, Amir Khan will be a ringside guest during next Friday's senior ABA Championship finals at London's ExcCel Centre. Moreover, he will issue a challenge to the winner to meet him in what now seems destined to be his own farewell amateur contest in home town Bolton, scheduled for 16 April. Amir, who controversially withdrew from the tournament following a row over ticket allocations, is now set to turn professional with promoter Frank Warren next month - contracts have been exchanged - and he revealed to me last week that he wants to go out with a significant victory on a testimonial night for his amateur club. He said: "Obviously I would have loved a re-match with the Cuban, Mario Kindelan, who beat me in Athens, but this does not seem possible. So I would like to meet whoever becomes the ABA champion to show that I could have won the title."
The final will be contested by experienced Londoner Michael Grant and Jamie Cox of Swindon, a big-hitting southpaw. Either would be a handful at light-welter for the still-learning, still-growing Amir, 18, who might even enter the pro ranks as an "Oscar" winner like boxing's celluloid Million Dollar Baby. His Athens exploits have earned him nomination as the Laureus world newcomer of the year, one of six Brits in line for awards. Although Amir declines finally to confirm his professional intentions, he says significantly: "I'll be happy once a decision is made because anything could happen. I could break my hands in training tomorrow and never box again."
Parisi throwing his weight behind Paris
There may be dark mutterings in London about the Premiership's foreign legionnaires pledging their support to the Paris bid, but how about the British Olympic medallist who is being paid to promote it? His name, appropriately enough, is Angelo Parisi, once a heavyweight presence on the domestic judo scene , who won the bronze for Britain in the Munich Games of 1972. Subsequently he married a French girl, moved to France and won three more Olympic medals, including gold, for his adopted country. Parisi, now 51, and weighing in these days at 25st - more than half again his fighting weight - is employed by the French sports ministry to visit schools and clubs and talk up support for Paris 2012. He says it is proving an easy task. "The great thing about the bid to get the Olympics here is that the public support is just phenomenal, wherever you go," he says. Parisi adds it also helps that his boss, sports minister Jean-Francois L'Amour, is similarly steeped in Olympism, as a double gold-medal winner at fencing.
French chefs have stomach for the fight
Stung by a report in an American foodie magazine that London, not Paris, is now the gourmet capital of the world, French chefs have done a Delia and called loudly for supporters of the Paris bid to march on their stomachs. A top Michelin man, Guy Savoy, has enlisted 150 of the nation's similarly starred restaurateurs to defend their country's gastronomic honour and produce menus in their restaurants dedicated to Paris 2012 "that will set the taste buds of our visitors tingling". Doubtless London will respond by requesting Gordon Ramsay to serve up a signature dish prior to his London Marathon appearance, which we trust will feature an abundance of runner beans.
¿ Alan Hansen was renowned in his footballing days for his defensive artistry, but it transpires he also a dab hand at the real thing, too. One of the BBC pundit's hidden talents will be revealed in London this week; a line drawing in ink of a Buddha, which will be on display with other celebrity works of art at Foyles Gallery.
It seems that the former Scotland and Liverpool star is something of a political animal, too, for his contribution, along with the others, including paintings by cricket personalities Jack Russell and Dickie Bird, is to be auctioned on Thursday in aid of the Free Tibet Campaign to raise awareness about the abduction by the Chinese authorities 10 years ago of a six-year-old Tibetan boy, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who, as the Panchen Lama, was the nation's second most important religious figurehead. Say the campaign organisers: "We are delighted with Alan's donation. Although the drawing is small, it is actually quite beautiful, a touching little piece and quite unique."
¿ According to a new report sport remains some way from a woman's world as far as top jobs are concerned.
Ironically, it has been produced by UK Sport (chairman Sue Campbell, chief executive Liz Nicholl), so girl power does rule somewhere. But they have a point, with only a quarter of sports bodies having women in senior positions. One is the British Ice Hockey Players' Association, whose chief Jo Collins has finally won her battle with the chaps at the Home Office over the scheme which permitted "working holidaymakers" to play professionally in Britain at the expense of home-grown talent. Perhaps the NHL should send for her to sort out the problems which have closed down the sport in the United States.
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